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Medieval Names

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psychwriter

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My story is set in a fantasy world but I'm focusing on European medieval names.  I've named most of my characters but there are a few that as yet remain nameless.  I've done many internet searches but I've yet to find a really extensive list of names.  (I imagine I'm looking in the wrong places).  I read many fantasy books which are filled with wonderful names of people and places.  Where do they find these names?

Any suggestions of websites or books (or names) that I can reference?
#1 - June 21, 2009, 09:06 AM

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Hey, Psychwriter--It might help if you could narrow it down a bit more in time and place. For example, are you thinking of an earlier medieval period, or a later one? What languages? NetSERF is a great clearinghouse of medieval websites that you could always give a try.
#2 - June 21, 2009, 09:31 AM

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There's a very useful book called Names Through the Ages by Teresa Norman published by Berkley that you might find helpful:

http://www.amazon.com/Names-through-Ages-Teresa-Norman/dp/0425168778/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245602502&sr=1-1
#3 - June 21, 2009, 09:43 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

psychwriter

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Thanks Rab and Marissa.

I meant to add that I'm focusing on British medieval names that are still in (relatively) common usage.  One thing that frustrates me is when I can't pronounce a character's name.  Sometimes when reading fantasies I have to make up my own nicknames for the characters so I don't stumble over their names.
#4 - June 21, 2009, 09:49 AM

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One of the neatest places to find names is in the genealogy websites on posted family trees. Some go way back! There are unusual spellings for common names used today, names you never heard before, and so on.
#5 - June 21, 2009, 10:15 AM
Beyond Suspicion, YA Mystery, Poisoned Pen Press
http://www.catherineawinnbooks.com

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You're safe with saints' names--from Mary and Elizabeth and Katherine to Agatha and Margaret and Ann... and there's Edith, Eleanor, Isabella, Matilda, Margery, Jacinta, Emma, Alison, Cecelia, Mabel, Judith, Agnes, Ella, Maud, Rosamond, Sybil, Hilda, Joan, Jillian/Julian, Gertrude, Eugenia, Grace, Prudence, Sara  (all from the Teresa Norman book)
#6 - June 21, 2009, 10:46 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

psychwriter

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One of the neatest places to find names is in the genealogy websites on posted family trees. Some go way back! There are unusual spellings for common names used today, names you never heard before, and so on.

Thanks Cathie.  I never would have thought of that.

Thanks again, Marissa.  Those are some great suggestions (Two of which I've already used).  I'll be sure to check out that book.
#7 - June 21, 2009, 10:55 AM

DeirdreK

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Histories are also good..and chronicles.... and OOOHHH. how about Runciman's history of the Crusades?  Lots of great British Medieval Guy names in there!. and I second the "Medieval Saints"-- sure, you'll get the odd ethelburga and Bede, but you also get Alfreds and Margarets and Alberts and Gregorys and Augustines.......
#8 - June 21, 2009, 01:15 PM

Books for Young Readers of All Ages :)
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Try this, too:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pgc.asp?page=sbook.html
It's the Medieval Sourcebook online.  There are actual logs of assizes and other primary sources with dozens of names of regular people that I've not found elsewhere.  It's fun to peruse!
#9 - June 21, 2009, 04:05 PM
CALVIN'S LAST WORD, Tilbury House 2021
LITTLE CALABASH, Island Heritage 2020
SECRETS IN TRANSLATION, Fitzroy, 2018
and 28 more..
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Psychwriter--England makes it easy! One of my sources is The Canterbury Tales, especially ones with 14th-century settings, such as The Miller's Tale, The Reeve's Tale, and The Wife of Bath's Prologue, and The Nun's Priest's Tale. They're good for common names and nicknames. Nicholas, Alison, Robin, and John are some of the names from the Miller's Tale, for example. You do have to be careful with some of the Canterbury Tales, though--several are set in exotic, long ago, far away places and have names that reflect that--Aurelius, Dorigen, etc.

Common names for boys in England from the Middle Ages on include John, William, Thomas, Richard, Henry, George, Edward, and Robert.

Some 14th and 15th-century women's names I took from a couple of medieval sources include Christina, Alice, Katherine, Katerina, Juliana, Alicia, Agnes, Isabella, Emma, Isabella, Elizabeth, Anne, Margaret, Constance, Rose, and Felicia. Lots of them are saints' names, as Marissa pointed out.
#10 - June 21, 2009, 04:10 PM

psychwriter

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Thanks everyone.  Looks like I'll have plenty of sources to choose from.  Now all I have to do is decide on the perfect names...
#11 - June 21, 2009, 04:28 PM

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ecb

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One thing it's interesting to note is that, particularly in England during the 1500s (which, I realize, is not really medieval), the *number* of names in common use was much fewer than we have today.  Think about Henry VIII's wives: he had two Annes and three Katherines!  This may not be convenient or even practical for a novel, of course, where having two Annes and three Katherines will just confuse the reader, but it's interesting.
#13 - June 24, 2009, 02:02 PM

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This is a great site. The Medieval list is small, but they have other interesting categories, like Mythology, etc. http://www.behindthename.com/
#14 - June 24, 2009, 02:50 PM

Avalon Ink

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http://interment.net/ is my go to site for names, it lists the names on literally millions of headstones throughout the world. It may take a bit of digging to find the right time frame for names and I'm not a 100% sure that they go back that far, but once you do, there's some GREAT names and you know the exact time frame that they were used.
#15 - July 01, 2009, 01:25 PM

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